Barca start off Cup defence with easy win

Barcelona avoided any mishaps as they set out on the defence of their Spanish Cup title with a 3-0 first leg win away to lower league Alaves.

Despite resting several star names David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas were on target to continue the Catalan giants majestic start to the campaign which has seen them only drop points in La liga with their draw in the El Clasico with Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Pedro Rodriguez were among the players left at home in Barcelona but it made little difference as the visitors were always in control against an Alaves side which has seen better times.

The 2001 Uefa Cup finalists who lost to Liverpool are now in Segunda B, the Spanish third tier. The Alaves keeper Urtzi Iturrioz was kept busy by an Alexis Sanchez header and a shot by Iniesta from the edge of the area before Villa fired Barca ahead on 40 minutes as he crashed a shot in off the crossbar after receiving a long ball from Iniesta.

"From hospital it was difficult to score goals,'' Villa said. "After all this time I want to play as much as possible, but I am in the hands of professionals and they know what's best for me,'' Villa, who missed the European Championship after breaking his leg,said.

The roles were reversed five minutes after the restart as Villa set up Iniesta for a curling 20-yard strike which nestled in the top corner. Fabregas ensured a comfortable second leg at the Nou Camp with a header two minutes from the end.

Valencia begin well

Earlier Valencia overcame the rain and Segunda B Llagostera's artificial pitch for a 2-0 victory. Valencia have had an inconsistent start to the season but they came out on top with goals from Jonas Goncalves at the end of the first half and Nelson Valdez after 68 minutes.

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